Deep in Taliban country, girls are going back to school
Malala Yousafzai's charity helps revival of girls' education
Picture: Christian Science Monitor
- Annabel Symington for Christian Science Monitor
- September 27, 2013
On weekday mornings in Mingora, the largest city in Swat Valley, Pakistan, the streets are filled with boys heading to school. Among them are smaller groups of schoolgirls laughing and tucking books under their arms, as they, too, head to school.
The scene highlights how far the region has come in the past few years: The Swat Valley, famed for its picturesque mountains, saw more than 400 schools destroyed – more than half of them girls' schools – when the Taliban took control of the region in 2008.
The valley was cleared of the Taliban by a military operation in 2009, but it's taken a while for girls to fill the schools again. Girls struggle to simply get to school in the remote mountainous region and the persistent issue of poverty remains key. The Taliban is considered a greater threat in areas that border the valley, but activists here say there's a need to make sure girls as well as boys are educated in order to avoid a repeat of the past.
“There is a feeling [in Swat] that if we are not educated these things will happen again," says Hazer Gul, a local activist. "The Mullahs misinformed us. They [the community] have understood that education is the key to avoiding militants.”
Enter the Malala Fund: The fund named for Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot point blank by a Taliban gunman for her vocal support of school for girls in the region, aims to improve access to primary school education for children around the world. Her survival of the Taliban attack on her schoolbus one year ago October, shined a spotlight on Pakistani girls education - and made her a global spokesman for the millions of Pakistani girls the movement would like to deny education.
Source: Christian Science Monitor